Personal profile


I studied chemistry and Asian Studies in the Soviet Union, Hungary, and the U.S. before obtaining doctorates in history (Moscow State University) and sociology (Hungarian Academy of Sciences). Before coming to the VU, I taught at Macquarie University in Sydney.


My main research area is the international mobility of contemporary Chinese elites. I am also interested in Chinese nationalism, the politics of immigration in Eastern Europe, and comparative approaches to Eastern Europe and China.

Recent books:


I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on historical and contemporary migrations, nationalism, ethnicity, and the politics of history.

I currently supervise dissertation research on

  • interreligious households in China (Bram Colijn, Religious Studies),
  • the politics of memory in Iran (Younes Saramifar, Anthropology),
  • migrant worker advocacy between Indonesia and Malaysia (Pamungkas Ayudaning Dewanto, Anthropology),
  • the organisation of work in small Chinese companies (Melanie Uy, Anthropology) and
  • power and the state in a Chinese Muslim town (Jackson Liu, Anthropology).

Ancillary activities

  • Member of the editorial boards of The China Journal and The Australian Journal of Anthropology
  • Member of the academic committee of the International Institute of Social History

Prizes and Awards

In 2003-04, I was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2009 2017

Epistemic Nostalgia: Associations of Former GDR Cadres in Post-Socialist Germany

Bouma, J. M. J. 2017 247 p.

Research output: ScientificPhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VU

Open Access

Freer but not free enough? Chinese journalists finding their feet in Africa

Gagliardone, I. & Pál, N. 1 Sep 2017 In : Journalism. 18, 8, p. 1049-1063 15 p.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle


Instant cities in the jungle: Fantasies of modernity for whom?

Nyiri, P. D. 2017 Tourist Utopias: Offshore Islands, Enclave Spaces, and Mobile Imaginaries. Simpson, T. (ed.). Amsterdam University Press, p. 55-74

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewChapter

Realms of free trade, enclaves of order. Chinese-built ‘instant cities’ in Northern Laos

Nyiri, P. D. 2017 The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations across China’s Borders. Saxer, M. & Zhang, J. (eds.). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, p. 57-72 (Asian Borderlands)

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewChapter